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of the dead, where rich and poor meet together, and all are alike undistinguished and inactive. Then will it be said of you, in particular, as it was long ago said of mankind in general, “ His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish.”
The year is at hand that will put an end to all spiritual privileges, and other means of improvei ment.
Lightly, as you treat Sabbaths, and Sermons, and Prayers, at present, you will think otherwise of them, when you are about to be taken from them for ever. Now, perhaps, the Lord's day is the longest in the week, and you know not what to do with yourselves; and often, in the course of it inwardly say,
" When will the sabbath be over?” Well, you may not much longer be burdened with Sabbaths. The year of release is at hand; and then you will be no more constrained to go to the house of God; and be com pelled to shut yourselves up in a closet to pray or to meet twice a day for family prayer. You shall be teleased from all this, and go down to the grave, where there is nothing to distinguish Sabbaths from other days; for there is no more work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither
, The year is at hand, when for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
Now, perhaps, you may be vain enough to think, if not bold enough to say, “Our lips are our own; who is Lord over us? If we will walk after the ways of our own hearts, and the sight of our own eyes,
and do what we please, what is it to any other person?"-Because God has hitherto kept silence, you fancy that he is altogether such an one as yourselves; and that you shall have peace, though you go on after the hardness and impénitence of your hearts, to add iniquity to iniquity, and drunkenness to thirst. But you are dreadfully deceived. He will reprove you, and set your sins in order before you ; and then you shall hear of things which you had forgotten yourselves, and hoped that God had also forgotten: But you shall see them all displayed in the order in which they were committed, and with all their various ag. gravating circumstances; for God will bring every work into judgment, and every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Can you think of it, then, without the most serious concern, that the day of reckoning may be at band, and that in a few months you may stand before the judgment-seat of Christ? to give an account of the things done in the body? O! my unhappy friends, I say not this to give you needless alarm. These are words of truth and soberness; and you cannot but be convinced that they are certainly true. Be not then easy in such a situation; while death, judgment and hell, are at hand, and you are totally unconcerned, and unprovided.
But I cannot conclude with any thing so gloomy. Our text suggests something more encouraging. It raises our thoughts to the acceptable year of the Lord, to the day of grace, when Christ comes, and preaches deliverance to the captives. Joyful was the sound of release to the poor Israelites, who had been obliged to
sell themselves for debt, and had no other means of deliverance: but infinitely more welcome is the news of salvation to the sinner, who is deep in arrears to Divine Justice, a miserable captive to the prince of darkness, and who had forfeited his inheritance to the heavenly kingdom. “ Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound. They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day ; and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.”
Now who can tell but that God, in pity to his declining churches, may intend to revive his work in the midst of these years ; and that he has sent me this day, as a messenger before his face, to give notice of his coming; and to inform all those who have been sold under sin, and led captive by Satan at his will, but are waiting for redemption in Israel, that the year of release is at hand? “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God.”
Who can tell but this year, which will be a dying year to many, may be a living year to some of you; when you shall be made alive to God, and begin to walk before him in newness of life: when
shall forsake sin and sinners, and join yourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant? All this may occur to some of you ; and glad should I be, to hear you all eagerly crying out, “ Lord, let it be to me,” and “ Lord let it be to me.” And whose fault will it be, if this be not your happy experience ? " As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his evil way, and live. Let the wicked forsake his way, and
, the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him re66 The year
turn unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upos bim; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
Upon the whole, O ye afflicted, and not comforted, let your sorrows arise from what cause they may, whether from a worn-out body, or an awakened conscience; whether you are looking for death, or longing for Christ, I tell you, for your comfort, once more,
of release is at hand.” Nothing now remains, but to wish you all a happy new year. By that, however, I do not confine my good wishes to bodily health, and worlaly prosperity.
. These, indeed, are desirable mercies, when attended with the blessing of God; but they are not abso. lutely necessary. Men may be happy without them; yea, many times happier without them than with them. I wish you, therefore, something higher and better than this. I wish that all who begin this year in the blindness and hardness of a graceless condition, may, before the end of it, be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. I wish that you may be prepared for the mercies and the trials of the year; and that both may work toge ther for your good. I wish that those who live through the year, may live to the Lord; and that those who die in it may die to the Lord ; that both the living and the dying may be the Lord's. I wish that the young people of this congregation may all be the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus; and that all the old persons among us, may have their hearts established with grace, and go down to their graves like a shock of corn, fully ripe. I wish that, whatever outward troubles you may meet with,
the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, may keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus; and that every year, which you live on earth, may in
, crease the lustre of your crown in the kingdom of heaven. In a word, I wish you useful while you
à live; comfortable when you die; and happy when days, and years, and time, shall be no more.